The Ballymurphy Precedent

Callum Macrae

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Largely unknown outside Northern Ireland, the deaths of eleven innocent people at the hands of the British Army in a Catholic estate in Belfast is one of the most significant events in the Troubles.

In one small Belfast housing estate in August 1971, during protests over the three days that followed the government’s introduction of internment without charge or trial, shootings by the British Army caused the deaths of eleven innocent Catholic civilians, including a priest and a mother of eight. As many as thirty more civilians were shot and injured. At the time the army claimed the dead were armed terrorists – a claim which has never been withdrawn and remains an ongoing injustice and block on Northern Ireland’s painful road to peace and reconciliation.

The Ballymurphy Precedent contextualises these events in their context and looks at the devastating effect of these events on the course of the next thirty years of the Troubles. It examines how, less than six months after the massacre at Ballymurphy, members of the same Parachute regiment were sent from Belfast to Londonderry/Derry, where they shot another 13 Catholics dead on the day that became known across the world as Bloody Sunday. In doing so it raises vital questions about what the authorities knew – or should have known – about what the Paras were likely to do when they sent them to Derry.

Notes by Dartmouth Films

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